AN onerous schedule which includes tough road trips to Wellington and Melbourne and three games in 10 days is likely to make or break Newcastle’s A-League season, according to coach Gary van Egmond.
Friday night’s 0-0 draw with Brisbane in atrocious conditions at Hunter Stadium denied the Jets the opportunity to shore up sixth spot with five rounds of the regular season remaining.
It does not get any easier with away clashes against Wellington Phoenix on Wednesday and Melbourne Victory next Sunday, and then Perth five days later at home in a trio of matches which are set to define their season.
Van Egmond called upon his his team to embrace the "road trip" challenge but admitted the depth and fitness of his squad would be tested in the process.
‘‘It is a really tricky period for us,’’ van Egmond said.
‘‘We have to utilise the whole squad and it will be horses for courses.
‘‘At this stage of the season with a few different bodies we won’t be able to cope with them all.’’
Asked if the period would determine their finals hopes van Egmond replied: ‘‘It very well could’’.
But he backed his players to rise to the challenge.
‘‘I think we have lost one in eight games recently, we might not have won a great deal but what it says is that we are pretty resolute and hard to break down,’’ he said.
The round 22 clash between the Jets and Roar was played in torrential rain and swirling, howling winds before a hardy crowd of 8,310 and was an entertaining affair despite the conditions.
Both sides had their chances with Emile Heskey’s strike off the post in the seventh minute the best for home side, while Brisbane’s Jade North found the back of the net in the 43rd minute when he latched onto a long ball, but the former Jet was ruled offside.Jets goalkeeper Mark Birighitti and his Brisbane counterpart Michael Theo starred for their respective sides in which both walked away with a deserved point.
‘‘It was a strange game ... probably due to the weather,’’ van Egmond said.